Blackfish and eels fill the gap
  |  First Published: July 2012

The streams of the West and South Gippsland regions are flowing hard with solid rainfall hitting the catchments, providing perfect conditions for trout breeding and feeding.

While the trout season is closed, blackfish and eel are also making the most of the strong flows and are able to move upstream feeding in natural stream holes that are now abundant with food. With this in mind, targeting blackfish and eel as an alternative to trout can be a lot of fun on light gear and just as rewarding.

The key spots to look out for along any stream are dark pools and deep holes that provide blackfish and eel the perfect habitat to ensnare their prey. They are ambush predators and can take their time before seizing a well-presented garden or scrub worm. By far this is the best and simplest bait to consider when fishing for these species and the tackle needed is just as simple.

The two easy methods are either fishing a worm under a float or fishing a worm off the bottom. Blackfish and eel rarely come up to the surface to feed so the target feeding zone is going to be at the stream bed in slow flowing, stagnant water or backwash. Fishing off the bottom is an obvious technique but it can provide some difficulty in seeing a bite if the line is difficult to keep taut.

Both blackfish and eel are sensitive biters unlike trout, which aggressively strike a bait or lure. Float fishing certainly provides an advantage as you can very easily see a bite when the float bobs and you don’t have to keep the line tight. Float fishing can only be considered though if the water is still or swirling so that it doesn’t end up in the stream current and out of the feeding zone. Fishing for these species is successful in the late afternoon when the sun sets below the hills and those brave enough to spend a few chilly hours out in the dark are often rewarded for their patience. You can also catch numerous blackfish and eel in one hole unlike trout that tend to hunt solo in the stream flow.

Key rivers holding blackfish and eel include the Lang Lang River from Hallora right down to Lang Lang, Bunyip River up at Labertouche flowing down to Koo Wee Rup, the Tarago River, Latrobe River and its tributaries. The season for blackfish closes on September 1 for 4 months, yet eels can be targeted all year round.

For those anglers still itching to catch a local trout over July, then Blue Rock Lake is our only option. Blue Rock presents a large area that can be covered on foot along the south-west bank offering ideal conditions for bank fly casting, lure casting and bait fishing. Entry points for land-based anglers are at the two boat ramps at either end of the lake with the township of Willow Grove in between.

The lake is at full capacity, which means a lot of vegetation from when the lake was low has been submerged providing plenty of grazing area for trout patrolling the lake bank; all within casting distance. As the trout have been busy spawning up in the Tanjil River over the last couple of months, we’ll start to see an influx of hungry trout re-entering the lake for a decent feed so we will start to see plenty of action.

Feel free to send me a report or photo particularly if you have any success stories out on Blue Rock Lake or if you have been targeting eel and blackfish. Please email me any questions too. Happy fishing!

The author stalked and waited patiently for this nice stream brown to take the worm just before the season closed.

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